British Museum guidebook, £3.50
Diameter: 25.000 cm
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
M&ME Pottery Catalogue I 793
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Creamware plate decorated with a scene from Aesop's Fables
Staffordshire, England, about AD 1770-75
'The Cock and the Fox'
The scene of 'The Cock and the Fox' (Fable XXVII) is taken from a wood engraving by Samuel Croxall in his edition of 1722 of Aesop's Fables. Scenes from Aesop's Fables frequently appear on tiles dating to the early 1770s, but are rarely found on plates. It is possible that this plate was decorated with the printed subject either as an experiment or perhaps as a special order. Only fifteen of these plates with printed fable scenes are known. The British Museum has four, and the others can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Schreiber Collection).
research of Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-95), and his
experiments with various types of clays and methods of firing led
to the production of creamware (cream-coloured earthenware) from
the early 1760s. Creamware formed the foundation for
Wedgwood's prosperity and fortune, and has remained in
constant production. Wares made at the Wedgwood pottery in Burslem
were sent to the Liverpool partnership of John Sadler (1720-89) and
Guy Green (retired 1799) to be decorated with
This plate, with its lobed form, scrolled frame around the print and scattered flower decoration, retains much of the charm of the rococo style, while also showing the influence of the current neo-classical style in the hand-painted green husk motif. The additional hand-painted decoration would have added considerably to the cost of production, and suggests that the plate might have been a special commission.
A. Dawson, Masterpieces of Wedgwood in th, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)